Green shoots

Outside our front door we have two Seville orange trees which were grown from pips gathered from trees in the garden of Marta’s father’s house in Heliopolis by her friend Eliza and given to us soon after we were married. About two years ago they stopped growing. They didn’t die but there was no new growth. I never worked out why. Last summer I repotted them with fresh compost and watched anxiously over the autumn and winter. This spring I fed and watered them dutifully. About two months ago, one of them sprang back to life and is now flourishing with thick dark healthy leaves, but the other remained skeletal until this brilliant period of summer heat. In the past week, the tiny green buds that looked as ready to shrivel as to grow have suddenly burst into strong shoots.Irrational as it may be, I can’t help associating the rebirth of our orange trees with the growing hope we have as a family. Yesterday (Thursday), a doctor came to Isita’s room to tell us that both the bone marrow aspirate and the trephines from Tuesday a week ago were clear. We knew the BMA result earlier in the week, but the trephines (bone samples) are the more definitive result. This is because the dratted cancer cells are sticky so tend to adhere to the inner wall of the bone and might be there even if they are not found in the marrow itself.

The other huge advance in Isita’s treatment is that the gastro consultant decided on Wednesday to reduce her para-enteral nutrition (the intravenous fluids that we feed her with) by another step. She is now getting one litre a night. We started on 1.3 litres. Reducing the fluids should make her more hungry and thirsty. So with any luck she’ll eat more. If she eats more they can wean more. And so on. As I have mentioned before, there is now daily evidence that her digestive system is working.

It was mid-June 2017 when Isita went nil-by-mouth and exactly one year ago, on 6 July when we got the test results showing that the induction chemotherapy had put the cancer into remission. One week later, she started high dose chemotherapy – the thing which destroyed her guts and nearly killed her, and hopefully the cancer too. Now we can finally look forwards to a day when she will have recovered from this ordeal, providing of course that there is no relapse.By mid-August, we think Isita will have finished immunotherapy. She’ll then have a barrage of further tests and then surgery. This means radiotherapy could take place in October. Under this schedule she would finish treatment in early November. She might even be eating normally by then. It is amazing even to be able to speculate about this.These happy tidings coincide with the news that in his final year at Wetherby Pre-prep, Jamie won the Strength and Determination prize. No father would ever say his son did not deserve such a prize, but it is impossible to state how much I feel that he really has. I haven’t mentioned him enough in this blog. Over the past 18 months, he has struggled with violent emotions: fear, anger, jealousy, shame, loneliness, and sadness. He has worked out how to deal with them, to overcome them, and to be the most amazing protective, generous brother to Isita. He has grown. He is flourishing. Thank God now they both are.

9 thoughts on “Green shoots

  1. Waw! What an amazing beautiful post. Inmensely happy about Isita’s news and congratulations to your son!. A credit to the extraordinary attitude you and Marta demostrate. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  2. Your children are quite simply brilliant and a real testament to you and Marta. This post is wonderful to read. Thank you for sharing so generously.
    Sarah Dean

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  3. The Beetles were on to something when they sang:” All you need is love”. It helps to overcome/conquer everything. You were determined not to give up on your Seville orange tree as well. And well done Wetherby primary school to have supported Jamie all the way.
    Heliopolis??? Was Marta brought up in Cairo? Will have to talk Egypt with her one day.
    Love love love to you all, such wonderful news to wake up to
    Virginia

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  4. John this is such wonderful news. We will continue to hope and pray all continues to improve. Please let us know when you are next in Shropshire as we would love to see you all! Christina xx

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  5. Go Jamie, and the beautiful orange tree. And another big Strength and Determination award goes to all of you. You’ve been amazing, all four. Big kiss Ix

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  6. SOOOOO HAPPY FOR YOU ALL!!!!! Fantastic news all around!! Green shoots, prizes at school and of course my Konan the barbatian fighter who never gives up!! Touched, amazed and grateful! Example of family work xxxxx

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  7. Such wonderful news. Could it be that she is past half way and is now running out of the woods?! Bennet

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  8. What great and amazing news! Both your kids are wonderful and both of the show strength and determination in spades to get through this. Good luck with the move. It seems so mundane after all you’ve been through!

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